Tuesday, June 28, 2011

White-collared Manakin

So appealing with its bright tropical colors! This is a male White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), snapped by talented photographer Alan Dalhl near Chan Chich Lodge. The females are more olive in coloration but still sport the bright orange legs.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about manakins -- and there are many species throughout the new World tropics -- are the wing-snapping sounds that the males use to attract females. Not only that, the male manakins congregate in "leks" darting from branch to branch after clearing a patch of the forest floor. All of this in order to display their wing pops and fluff out their white "beards" to best advantage so that the female can choose the most ardent suitor.

This species is definitely "veranda viewable" from the Lodge dining area, or venture out to thickety forest edges. It won't be hard to find.

(Thanks to Sheila for mentioning that the photo was not attached the first time out!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pond Visitor

Ok, so the Black Vulture is not a very charismatic bird. I've never heard anyone visiting Chan Chich confess that this species was on their "most wanted" list. Of the four vulture species found in Belize, the Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) is arguably the most abundant. It thrives around human habitation where it scavenges on garbage and refuse. This one came down to our pond to drink -- interesting how it is resting on its "haunches." I think it must be nesting on our hillside since I've seen two of them hanging around.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garden Innovation

Here's a bird's eye view of a an exciting new feature in Gallon Jug Estate: an organic garden! This impressive spread, complete with footpaths, is all thanks to the efforts of Jackie Bowen (above) who has put heart and soul into the design and plantings. And lucky for us, it is finally paying off with fresh, luscious organic produce for Chan Chich Lodge and the rest of our community. A variety of lettuce (or is that "lettuces?"), herbs too numerous to remember, squashes, melons, radish, peppers and cucumber to name a few are all beginning to produce.

Those gardeners among my readers appreciate how difficult it can be to "go organic" battling pests using old fashioned non-chemical ways. I think it is even more difficult here since we have so many more insects to prey on tender leaves -- and that's 12 months out of the year too! Jackie's got that figured out too as she has started tobacco in case she needs to make a natural pest repellent.

Other garden plans include a stream bed which has been cut where the natural stream drainage used to be. It's dry now, but should fill up when the rains come in a couple of weeks. If that's successful, then fish will be added which could possibly provide another organic protein source (in addition to the Gallon Jug beef) for the Lodge.

The garden is a very exciting innovation that both Lodge guests and Gallon Jug residents will likewise appreciate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More Babies

Who can resist these little fawns? This pair was at the bottom of our hill recently. Not worried enough to dash under the fence, but checking me out for sure. They could be the same pair recently pictured with mama at our pond a cuple weeks ago. Or perhaps not. One thing Gallon Jug Estate is not lacking is white-tailed deer!